Tag Archives: Harold Camping

The Truth About Heaven

by Michael J. Klassen

Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I’m sick of all of this
Hanging around
Sick of sorrow
Sick of pain
Sick of hearing again and again
That there’s gonna be
Peace on Earth

 Ten years ago, poet Paul David Hewson penned these words about heaven. You might know him better as Bono, of U2 fame. The song is entitled “Peace On Earth” which you can watch in the video above.

Strange—all too often we become so satisfied with the world we live in that we tend to forget about heaven…until people like Bono, Rob Bell, or Harold Camping remind us of its significance.

Do you ever long for heaven, I mean, really long for it? Centuries ago, negro spirituals brimmed with hope for the hereafter. Life as they knew it was so difficult that the African-American slaves looked forward to the day when they would experience relief from the pain and frustration of this present life.

To be honest, I don’t long for heaven near like I should. Sometimes I find myself quite satisfied with my life…until something bad happens. All too often, life must get so difficult that we give up placing our hope in the present.

Perhaps that is partly the purpose behind our pain—to remind us that this earth is not our home. At least not in its current form.

In Hebrews 11, we read a description of the great men and women of faith as people who admit they are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Perhaps that’s what made them great people of faith: they refused to make this present earth their home, preferring to focus on the treasures of heaven.

So what will heaven be like?

  • It will be a beautiful city—think the Emerald City from Wizard of Oz, but better! (Revelation 21)
  • No one will grow old because the tree of life will be there to give us food (Genesis 3:22; Revelation 22:2). Gray hair, be gone!
  •  Eventually it will descend to its permanent location—earth (Revelation 21:2).
  • Jesus will live there with us (Revelation 21:3).
  • Boredom will be no more (Psalm 16:11).
  • No more death, pain, tears, sorrow, sickness, hospitals, operations, tragedy, disappointment, trouble, hunger, or thirst (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 22:3; Isaiah 65:23; Revelation 7:16).
  • No need for naps because you won’t get tired (Isaiah 40:31).
  • Life will resemble our present lives here on earth—but without the bad stuff (Isaiah 65:21-22).

As much as we might like our lives, they pale in comparison to the real thing.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What If Jesus Doesn’t Return?

by Michael J. Klassen

Well, tomorrow’s the big day. The uber-famous rock band U2 plays in my home city of Denver, Colorado, and for the big ending, Jesus is coming back.

How great is that?!? A combination of heaven on earth followed up by an earth to heaven.

Of course, two things could turn the evening into a downer. First, the outdoor concert could be cancelled. Or more so, Jesus doesn’t return.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few months, you know about Harold Camping’s prediction that Jesus is returning on May 21. For a little refresher, you can read my recent post about the coming event. Camping is the former civil engineer and current owner of Family Radio. According to his calculations, Judgment Day is tomorrow.

If Jesus chooses not to follow Camping’s prediction, I’ll be disappointed for a number of reasons:

Jesus isn’t coming back. Living in this world is okay, but heaven is going to be so much better. No more pain and sorrow. No more $100 fill-ups at the gas station. I can eat as much as I want. But seriously, we’ll be in God’s glorious, unhindered presence. People who fear that they’ll be bored in heaven don’t have a clue how much better it will be. I admit that all too often, I focus all my attention on this present life: paying the bills, working hard, raising my kids. And, I allow temporal, unimportant things to stress me out. Eternity, on the other hand, is…forever.

Lives will be shattered. I can’t help but think about the many people who invested their life savings to warn people about Jesus’ return. If Jesus doesn’t come back, how will they rebuild their lives? The embarrassment alone would be overwhelming. Some quit their jobs and lived on their life savings to warn others. When they apply for new jobs, and their prospective employer asks them why they left their previous job, what will they say? Without a doubt, some people will become embittered by the experience.

The Christian faith will be mocked. Antagonists of the Christian faith will be given one more reason to point their fingers at followers of Christ and laugh. Over the last few weeks, atheists have been making fun of Camping’s ardent followers and using it as evidence of the ridiculousness of our faith. Here’s one example.

Excuse me for moment while I rant: The part that sticks in my craw is Camping’s claim that “the Bible guarantees” the date of Jesus’ return. Really? Where? And why, after 2000 years, did he crack the code, while St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Pope Benedict (an extremely astute theologian) and other theological luminaries missed it? Amazing.

Nevertheless, if Jesus doesn’t come back, it isn’t the end of the world. Life will go on. In fact, our faith will continue. Fortunately, the future of our faith isn’t dependent upon the its followers. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Sadly enough, this isn’t the first time he’s had to deal with apocalyptic naysayers. People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning.

The one encouragement I take in this non-event is that people still believe. Deep inside, we know this earth isn’t our home. Big screen TVs and iPads still don’t fill the God-shaped void inside.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Date That Jesus Returns

May 21. Circle the date on your calendar. Twenty-two days from today.

That’s the day Jesus is coming back. Don’t believe it? Harold Camping does, and a host of other people. Camping, 89 years young, owns and operates Family Radio, a network of 150 radio stations in the U.S. Years ago, the former civil engineer crunched some numbers based on his interpretation of Scripture and predicted a date in 1994. Somehow, God didn’t exactly fit into his arithmetic, and Jesus didn’t return. So, Camping crunched his numbers again and revised his date to May 21 of this year. On his website, the upcoming May Judgment Day claims “the Bible guarantees it!”

Scads of people believe, too. Around the U.S., Camping’s disciples are driving trucks with billboards on the back calling people to repent. After May 21, they claim Jesus will call his followers home, the Antichrist will reveal himself, and judgment on the rest of the world will commence. For more information, go to www.wecanknow.com.

My initial response to claims of Jesus’ impending return is, if you really believe it, then max out all your credit cards so that after you’re gone, you’ll bankrupt the Antichrist. Then I’ll know you really believe it.

Do We Really Know When Jesus Will Return?

Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

The first thing I’d like to know is, if Jesus doesn’t know the date of his return, how can Harold Camping??

Predictions about Jesus’ impending return press my buttons because I believed so deeply in their messages when I was a child. In the 1970s, dates and predictions about the rapture were legion. I was certain that I wouldn’t live to get my drivers’ license at age 16–add 30 years to that number, and I’m still waiting.

For two thousand years, well-meaning Christian leaders have been proclaiming that they’re living in the last generation And the last I heard, Jesus still hasn’t returned.

So why didn’t God rid us of the stress about dates by just giving us a date—even if it’s May 21, 2234?

He wants us living as if he could return at any time. If we know Jesus isn’t coming back for another 223 years, many of us would live like hell until just before the deadline.

But following Jesus is so much more than just waiting for his return. Following Jesus is so much more than receiving a “get out of hell” pass. Jesus came to give us an abundant life while we live on earth.

While I long to go to heaven and finally be released from frustration, pain, and bad coffee, I also firmly, deeply believe that God has placed us here for a reason. He wants to live through us, proclaiming the life that can only be known through Jesus.

Paul wrote in Romans 14:8: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Paul describes a combination of contentment and longing. A contentment with living in this world, and a longing for heaven. And in that tension, Jesus lives through us.

But the good news is, if He doesn’t come back in May, he’ll surely come back in 2012—because that’s when the Mayan calendar comes to an end.

Join the conversation

  1. What happens inside you when you hears predictions about Jesus’ return? Do you even remotely believe it?
  2. Have you ever believe in a specific date about Jesus’ return? How did you cope with the disappointment?
  3. To what extent do you live with the tension between living in this world and longing for heaven?

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized